To My Friends,

I’ve heard it said that someone with a definite “why” can figure out a “how.” This is a story about the Estonia Piano Company and how it raised itself from relative mediocrity to a level of excellence bringing it to the attention of the world.

The company was formed in 1950 by the order of Joseph Stalin when Estonia was part of the Soviet Union. It was run by the state and for the state, gaining a reputation as a sturdy but otherwise unremarkable product.

The company manufactured about 500 pianos per year. Its market was limited to the Soviet Union. The materials and components used to manufacture the pianos could only be obtained in the Soviet Union. There was no competition and therefore no incentive to improve.

Estonia recovered its independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990-91. The company struggled, its production falling by 90% to less than 50 pianos per year. Ultimately, the company was privatized to its managers after several years of mediocre performance–and things began to change.

The late Jim Rohn once said that if you want the things in your life to change, you have to change the things in your life–and this is exactly what Estonia Piano Company decided to do. The company reached out! It decided to go worldwide.

Materials and components for these handcrafted pianos now came from the finest sources available. Wood from Austria and Switzerland. German Renner actions and hammers. A new factory in 2003. A new owner, Indrek Laul (at that time a doctoral candidate at the Juilliard School in New York).

Today, pianos manufactured by the Estonia Piano Company are sold worldwide. More than half come to the United States. In terms of quality, the piano ranks right up there with the very best–at half the price.

My friends, what’s your why?